Douglas County PUD is ramping up construction of its hydrogen power plant in the Baker Flatts area north of East Wenatchee. 

It'll be one of a select few facilities in the entire country to produce green hydrogen and will be the first of its kind in Washington state. 

Douglas PUD spokesperson Meaghan Vibbert says a contractor is now in place - IMCO General Construction - to build the structure and make all the necessary connections. 

"Right now, it's kind of, getting all the paperwork and plans ironed out," said Vibbert. "And then you'll actually start seeing some action out at the site there in Baker Flatts here in the next couple of weeks, hopefully." 

Initial infrastructure, including underground utilities, piping and the grading of the lot, has already been done.  

The hydrogen produced at the plant will be sold on the open market and will be used to power hydrogen powered vehicles. 

A hydrogen fueling center will be built alongside the plant at Baker Flatts. 

Vibbert says the $25 million project will take a year to complete. 

"It will take until, we anticipate, late spring of 2024 before we are actually producing hydrogen," Vibbert said. "So, it's a process to get all that built and connected." 

About 95 percent of hydrogen in the U.S. is produced through a process that involves some sort of carbon footprint. Vibbert says the steam restoration process is widely used, which incorporates natural gas. 

Douglas PUD is different in that it will use the carbon free hydropower it produces at its Wells Dam on the Columbia River, along with available wind and solar power, to produce hydrogen at Baker Flatts. 

The PUD now has two 5-Mega Watt electrolyzers, which is the machinery that produces hydrogen through a chemical process.  

The PUD purchased its first electrolyzer for $9.5 million. The price of the second unit is not known because of changing market conditions. 

The plant will have the capacity to house up to four electrolyzers in the future. 

When operational, it’ll have the capacity to accommodate up to 80 megawatts of hydrogen, which is enough to fill-up 6,400 hydrogen powered cars every day.  

Vibbert says the utility is optimistic about the hydrogen plant's future and is billing the effort as a pilot project.  

The PUD has partnered with Toyota Motor Corporation for hydrogen power in vehicles and will receive three Toyota Murai vehicles for its own personal fleet. 

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